US Press: pick of the papers

The ten must-read opinion pieces from today's US papers.

1. Good Enough (Slate)

Romney wins solidly in New Hampshire. Will the victory finally persuade conservatives to support him? John Dickerson investigates.

2. Give Guantánamo Back to Cuba (New York Times)

Few gestures would improve American-Cuban relations as much as handing over the coveted piece of land that houses the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, Jonathan M. Hansen argues.

3. 'Acceptable' is pronounced 'winner' (Boston Globe) ($)

For anyone gauging the GOP presidential contest, this week's most significant poll results weren't the ones tabulated in N.H. They were the ones released by Gallup yesterday, Jeff Jacoby writes.

4. Was $73B of Afghan aid wasted? (Politico)

James Peterson writes that the money isn't going where we think it is and that's a lot of wasted treasure.

5. The U.S. needs to intensify sanctions on Iran (Washington Post)

Now is no time to relax sanctions, according to this editorial board.

6. How to predict a president (Los Angeles Times)

Forget Iowa and New Hampshire, or 7-Eleven coffee cup polls, or astrologers. People vote their pocketbooks, this editorial argues.

7. Though world stood still, things moving forward in Haiti (Chicago Tribune)

U. of C. professor of medicine helping launch residency program in Haiti, marking 2nd anniversary of quake, writes Dawn Turner Trice.

8. Republican candidates try to assert their blue-collar instincts (Washington Post)

According to Harold Meyerson, Republicans rediscover the working-class.

9. Paving paradise: The way to a better world? (Oregonian)

Paving roads in rural areas has enormous human benefits and not just by putting millions of people to work worldwide, Charles Kenny writes.

10. WWBDD? What will Bill Daley do? Readers offer their ideas. (Chicago Tribune)

President Barack Obama, a stranger to these lands of late, returns to Chicago on Wednesday to pick up oodles of ridiculous political cash from rich people in private so he can demonize other rich people in public and play the reformer, writes John Kass.

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Emmanuel Macron offers Theresa May no comfort on Brexit

The French presidential candidate warned that he would not accept "any caveat or any waiver" at a press briefing in London.

Emmanuel Macron, the new wunderkind of French politics, has brought his presidential campaign to London. The current favourite to succeed François Hollande has a natural electoral incentive to do so. London is home to 300,000 French voters, making it by France's sixth largest city by one count (Macron will address 3,000 people at a Westminster rally tonight). But the telegenic centrist also took the time to meet Theresa May and Philip Hammond and to hold a press briefing.

If May hoped that her invitation would help soften Macron's Brexit stance (the Prime Minister has refused to engage with his rival Marine Le Pen), she will have been left disappointed. Outside No.10, Macron declared that he hoped to attract "banks, talents, researchers, academics" away from the UK to France (a remark reminiscent of David Cameron's vow to "roll out the red carpet" for those fleeing Hollande). 

At the briefing at Westminster's Central Hall, Macron quipped: "The best trade agreement for Britain ... is called membership of the EU". With May determined to deliver Brexit, he suggested that the UK would have to settle for a Canadian-style deal, an outcome that would radically reduce the UK's market access. Macron emphasised that he took a a "classical, orthodox" view of the EU, regarding the "four freedoms" (of people, capital, goods and services) as indivisible. Were Britain to seek continued financial passporting, the former banker said, it would have to make a significant budget "contribution" and accept continued immigration. "The execution of Brexit has to be compliant with our interests and the European interest".

The 39-year-old avoided a nationalistic tone ("my perspective is not to say France, France, France") in favour of a "coordinated European approach" but was unambiguous: "I don't want to accept any caveat or any waiver to what makes the single market and the EU." Were the UK, as expected, to seek a transitional arrangement, it would have to accept the continued jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

Elsewhere, Macron insisted that his liberal economic stance was not an obstacle to his election. It would be fitting, he said, if the traditionally "contrarian" France embraced globalisation just as its counterparts were rejecting it. "In the current environment, if you're shy, you're dead," he declared. With his emotional, straight-talking approach (one derided by some as intellectually threadbare), Macron is seeking to beat the populists at their own game.

But his views on Brexit may yet prove academic. A poll published today showed him trailing centre-right candidate François Fillon (by 20-17) having fallen five points since his denunciation of French colonialism. Macron's novelty is both a strength and a weakness. With no established base (he founded his own party En Marche!), he is vulnerable to small swings in the public mood. If Macron does lose, it will not be for want of confidence. But there are unmistakable signs that his forward march has been halted. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.